Chelsea 7-1 Aston Villa: Frank Lampard bags four as Blues ease to victory

Ancelotti’s men stroll to comfortable win…
Chelsea v Aston Villa: Line-up & stats
Premier League results/standings

Chelsea put pressure on Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table after running out 7-1 winners over Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard opened the scoring for the Blues before John Carew equalised on the half hour, but on the stroke of half-time Lampard grabbed his second from the spot after Yuri Zhirkov went down under the challenge of James Collins.

Florent Malouda and Lampard both scored second half braces and Kalou added another late on to secure an emphatic victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
The manager made three changes from the 5-0 win over Portsmouth in midweek with Joe Cole and Nicolas Anelka coming in for Daniel Sturridge and Didier Drogba, while Alex replaced Ricardo Carvalho, who is out for a month with an ankle injury.

Aston Villa also made three changes from their last match. Carlos Cuellar and Stewart Downing made way for Luke Young and Steve Sidwell, and Emile Heskey missed out with an Achilles problem so Gabriel Agbonlahor returned in his place in Villa’s only other change from Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland.

Chelsea did not get off to the best start after Alex and Cech were involved in a defensive mix-up in the first minute of the game. The Blues defender was forced to concede a corner but Young’s inswinging cross came to nothing and Cech claimed the ball with ease.

Anelka had failed to score in his previous ten matches for Chelsea but he went close for the hosts in the opening minutes. The Frenchman peeled away from his marker Dunne after Deco’s through ball but could only strike straight at Friedel from an awkward angle.

It was an open game in the first ten minutes with both sides having plenty of chances. Warnock’s inswinging corner found Collins at the near post and the Welshman got a touch to turn the ball towards goal but Alex put enough pressure on the Villa centre-back for him to slice his shot just wide of Cech’s left-hand post.

Lampard was heavily involved in the game early on. The Chelsea midfielder played an excellent through ball for Anelka to run through on goal at Friedel but referee Peter Walton rather harshly ruled the Frenchman to be offside when he looked level with Collins. Moments later, Lampard was found in space 30 yards from goal but his ambitious strike was easy for Friedel to deal with.

On 15 minutes Malouda raced down the left wing and drilled the ball low across the face of goal for Lampard, who arrived late in the area, to slide the ball home at the far post for his 18th goal of the season.

Martin O’Neill’s side came close to an equaliser just two minutes later. Ashley Young ran down the left wing before delivering a dangerous cross into the area which Milner latched onto but his header was weak and rolled wide of Cech’s goal.

On the spot | Lampard dispatches penalty

In a similar move to Chelsea’s opener, Villa levelled on the half hour. Ashley Young cut inside from the left wing and drove the ball right-footed towards the far post where Zhirkov failed to pick up Carew, who tapped the ball past Cech to score his ninth goal in his last eight games.

Warnock was lucky not to turn the ball into his own net towards the end of the first half. Malouda once again broke down the left wing and smashed the ball across goal and as the Villa left-back shaped to clear, the ball took a bobble and his attempted clearance was sliced just over his own crossbar.

Referee Peter Walton turned down Chelsea’s penalty appeal after Malouda went down under the challenge of Collins, but awarded a spot-kick just a minute later when Collins was again the guilty party, bringing down Zhirkov in the area. Lampard stepped up and smashed the ball past Friedel to put Chelsea back in front.

Joe Cole struggled to make an impact in the in the early stages of the game, but just a minute into the second half, the man keen to impress England boss Fabio Capello broke down the right wing before clipping a great cross to Anelka at the near post but Friedel did enough to distract the Frenchman and he could only head wide from close range.

Villa went close on 52 minutes when Terry could only head Ashley Young’s clever delivery as far as Warnock on the edge of the area but the Villa left-back’s effort was wild and flew well over the crossbar to earn ironic cheers from the Stamford Bridge crowd.

Martin O’Neill opted to revert back to a 4-4-2 formation for the second half with Agbonlahor partnering Carew up front, which meant Villa were almost anonymous down the right-hand side. Chelsea exploited Villa’s weakness and Deco excellently picked out Zhirkov on the left wing, who pulled the ball back for an unmarked Malouda to fire the ball home from 10 yards.

Just three minutes later, Zhirkov was involved again as he raced into the Villa penalty area and was brought down by Dunne, who earned a booking for the foul. The penalty duties were again awarded to Lampard who smashed the ball past Friedel to bag his hat-trick and his 20th goal of the season.

Villa were again exposed on the right-hand side of their defence on 68 minutes when Ferreira found Lampard on the edge of the area and he rolled the ball out wide to Malouda, who rifled the ball right-footed past a stranded Friedel in the Villa goal. Boss Martin O’Neill quickly responded by bringing on right-back Beye for Agbonlahor.

Delfouneso was brought on for Carew and the youngster almost scored an incredible goal. The England Under-21 international weaved in an out before firing at goal from 25 yards out and the ball took a wicked deflection off Alex, wrong-footing Cech, and spun just wide of the Chelsea goal.

Zhirkov and Joe Cole made way for Van Aanholt and Kalou for the final 15 minutes and the latter grabbed a goal late on. Anelka twisted and turned in the Villa area before laying the ball off to Kalou who fired past Friedel from 12 yards out to make it 6-1.

Just as Villa thought their punishment was over, Milner could only slice his clearance as far as Malouda on the left wing and he whipped the ball in to Lampard 12 yards out, who fired the ball into the back of the net as the Blues sent out a message to their title challengers with a remarkable win at Stamford Bridge.

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